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The Five Greatest Athletes of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Who are they and why?
1. Michael Phelps (Aquatics/ USA): Considered the best athlete in the world by many Olympic experts, Michael holds the current world record in seven swimming events: 400m individual medley (4:03.84), 200m freestyle relay ( 1). : 42.96), 4x100m freestyle relay (3:08.24), 200m butterfly (1:52.03), 4x200m freestyle relay (6:58.56), 200m individual medley (1:54.23), 4x100m medley relay (3:29,34). On August 16, 2008, he also set an Olympic record in the 100m butterfly (50.58). A national hero in Maryland and the United States, he won 16 Olympic medals. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, he broke Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record with eight gold Olympic medals. From 2004 to 2008, Michael Phelps won more Olympic gold medals than many countries (including Ireland, Luxembourg, Iceland, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal and Malaysia). Unlike Mark Spitz, Michael did not compete at the Pan American Games. Mike Celizic (sports journalist) wrote: “Phelps has already done things we’ve never seen before and probably won’t see again. And he did it every time he left the starting blocks. His 14 gold medals for his career is the record. In Beijing, he won eight gold medals, five of them all by himself and three as a member of two relay teams. He won two of the golds on the same day, and seven medals came with a new world record”.
2. Rafael Nadal (Tennis/Spain): The 22-year-old is one of the greatest tennis players in history. He became the first Spaniard to win the gold medal in Olympic tennis. The Spanish Rafael Nadal defeated the Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, who won the bronze medal in the men’s singles tennis tournament at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens (Greece). In 2008, Rafael also won the French Open and Wimbledon Tournament. Like most Spaniards, Rafael Nadal a soccer player (soccer) as a youth. “I continued to play football as well as tennis, but slowly played more and more tennis with my uncle, says Nadal. But I still preferred football. That was my true love when I was a young boy”. In addition to his native language, he speaks English only well enough to carry on a casual conversation. He says: “Sorry my English is not that good. I only speak a quarter of English. Maybe a quarter. Not good.” .The first tennis player of the world Rafael Nadal was born on June 3, 1986 in Manocor, Majorca (Spain).
3. Usain Bolt (Athletics/ Jamaica): He is an Olympic idol in the world. In the Beijing Games in 2008, Usain won two gold medals: 100m (world and Olympic record) and 200m (world and Olympic record). He set his first world record on August 16, when he ran the 100 meters in 9.69 seconds (he broke his own record). Just four days later, Usain set a new world record of 19.30 seconds in the 200 meters, breaking the old mark of 19.32 set by Michael Johnson (USA) in 1996. Usain Bolt was born on August 21, 1986 in Trelawny , Jamaica. Tim Layden -American sports journalist- wrote: “He was offered track scholarships by several American colleges but declined”. Unlike many famous athletes, Usain trains and lives in Jamaica, birthplace of Donald Quarrie, Donovan Bailey, Patrick Ewing, Lennox Miller, George Kerr, Asafa Powell, Tessa Sanderson, Marlene Ottey. Usain Bolt loves Jamaica – it’s about the size of Connecticut – and the Caribbean countries. “I can’t live outside of Jamaica,” he says.
4. Yelena Isinbayeva (Track and field/ Russian): She won consecutive Olympic gold medals in the pole vault (Athens’2004 & Beijing’2008). In this century, she broke 24 world records and several European records. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, she broke her own world record with a vault of 5.05 meters. This sportswoman won five world championships from 2004 to 2008. Olympic champion pole vaulter Jelena was born on June 3, 1982 in Volgograd, Russia. His trainer is Vitalii Afanasievich Petrov.
5. Lionel Messi (Football/Argentina): Like Ronaldinho (Brazil), Lukas Podolski (Germany), Luis Figo (Portugal) and Victor Naofor (Nigeria), Lionel Andres Messi, best known as “the Flea”, is one of the best players in the world. Under the leadership of Lionel Andres Messi, Argentina qualified for the final of the 2008 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. In 2005, he led the Argentine team to the FIFA U-20 World Championship in Holland. Argentina defeated Nigeria 2-1 in the final…
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